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Pregnancy and Parental Leave

The Employment Standards Act, 2000 states that birth mothers are entitled to seventeen weeks pregnancy leave and thirty-five weeks of job-protected parental leave. All other new parents can take up to thirty-seven weeks leave. This means that collectively parents can be at home for a total of eighty-nine weeks with their newborn. This includes seventeen weeks pregnancy leave for the birth mother, thirty-five weeks of leave for the birth mother, and thirty-seven weeks leave for the other parent.

What are your rights during this period? Is your job safe? What are you entitled to? What happens when I return? There are many concerns about taking a leave from work. We know what you are entitled to both during and after your leave. Let us help you ease your mind Mom and Dad and concentrate on what's important, your new family member. In Ontario, under the Employment Standards Act, 2000, birth mothers are entitled to seventeen (17) weeks pregnancy leave and thirty-five weeks of job-protected parental leave.

Pregnancy Leave

Pregnant women are entitled to seventeen (17) weeks pregnancy leave and thirty-five (35) weeks job-protected parental leave. To be eligible for pregnancy leave, an employee must be employed with the employer at least thirteen (13) weeks or more prior to the baby's due date.

Pregnancy leave may begin on the date the employee gives birth if it is earlier than seventeen (17) weeks before the due date.

An employee wishing to take pregnancy leave must give her employer at least two (2) weeks written notice before commencement of the leave. The employer can request a doctor's certificate stating the expected birth date. If an employee stops working because of a complication caused by her pregnancy or because of a birth, still-birth, or miscarriage that occurs earlier than the due date, the employee must give the employer written notice of the start of the pregnancy leave within two (2) weeks. The employer may request a medical certificate stating that the employee is unable to work because of pregnancy complications, due date complication, still-birth or miscarriage.

An employee can terminate her pregnancy leave earlier if she gives the employer written notice at least four (4) weeks before the date she wishes to end her leave.

If an employee is on pregnancy leave and resigns prior to her return to work, she must give at least four (4) weeks written notice to her employer. This does not apply if the employee is constructively dismissed.

Parental Leave

A parent is a man or woman who is the birth parent of a child, adopts a child, becomes a step-parent or is in a long-lasting relationship with the parent of a child and intends to treat the child as his or her own.

The Parental leave provisions apply to each employee who is employed with an organization for at least thirteen (13) weeks and who is the parent of a child. Parents of newly born or adopted children are entitled to parental leave.

An employee must commence parental leave no later than fifty-two (52) weeks after the day the child is born or comes into the employee's care, custody, or control for the first time. Where an employee takes pregnancy leave, she is required to begin her parental leave at the end of the pregnancy leave unless the child has not yet come into her care, custody or control.

An employee must give the employer at least two (2) weeks written notice before the date the leave is to commence. The notice should tell the employer the date parental leave will start and the date the employee plans to return to work. If the return date is not included the employer must assume the employee is taking the longest leave available. After the employee starts leave, the employer must be given four (4) weeks written notice of any changes to their return date.


Any employee who takes either pregnancy or parental leave and who wishes to resign from employment either before the leave expires or when it expires is required to give the employer four (4) weeks written notice of the termination of the employee's employment.

Rights During Leave

An employee continues to participate in certain employee benefit plans while an employee is on pregnancy or parental leave. This includes paying the employer portion of pension, life insurance, accidental death, extended health, dental, and any other benefit plan unless the employee gives written notice that they do not want to keep making their own payments.

An employee's seniority and length of service continue to accrue during pregnancy and parental leave.

Where the job an employee performed prior to taking pregnancy and parental leave still exists, the employer must return the employee to the position. Where the job no longer exists, in most cases, the employee is entitled to a comparable position. The right to reinstatement is only limited where employment is terminated for reasons unrelated to the leave. For example, an employer may be able to claim the employee's employment was terminated because of a true restructuring.

Finally, if the wages of the employee's job increased while the employee was on leave the employer is obligated to pay the higher wage.

Generally, the legislation prohibits an employer (or an employee of an organization) from intimidating, dismissing, or otherwise penalizing an employee, or threatening to do so, because the employee is or will become eligible to take pregnancy or parental leave.